The Language of Clothing (#1 in series)

what label are you wearingDoes clothing speak?  Does how we dress say something about who we think we are?

With eyes open, it appears that clothing even for Christians is a thing indifferent. Younger (and older) women too often approach the Lord’s Table clothed in eye-catching attire not dissimilar from the women one might see working the corner of Hollywood and Vine. From time to time, I ask teen girls and their moms if they would be comfortable wearing their lingerie or bra and panties out in the front yard or going shopping. “Of course not,” they proclaim, “no way!” But how is their bikini any different?

As a wife and mom, I strive to see the world through the eyes of my husband, sons and grandsons. They are sorely put to the test. For example, there was the time when a beautiful and well-endowed woman waited on the table of my family. The cross the server was wearing hung low and visible between her breasts, but where were the eyes of my husband and sons invited to focus: upon the cross or somewhere else?

Sex education turns the eyes of boys to the bodies of girls.  It turns the eyes of girls to the bodies of boys. Sex education teaches that there is no shame in the human body. After all, as this thinking goes, God made our wondrous bodies. But this thinking ignores the fact that sin has corrupted our desires. This thinking may unconsciously encourage girls to become temptresses. Sometimes a young woman is completely unaware that she is being a temptress. She is, perhaps, uneducated in godly womanhood, dressing “like everyone else” or unaware that immodest clothing draws a man’s attention. There are other women who know full well that sensual clothing invites attention and this is how they exercise power over men.

We may hear people claim that clothing is a matter of “Christian liberty;” it is simply a personal choice. “Sexy,” they say, is just part of being female. It is, as I have been told, “showing my best assets.” But showing them to whom and for what reason? To believe it is a “liberty” to wear clothes designed to highlight certain parts of the body is to be fooled. Foolishness puts us at risk.

For the sake of young women and men, let’s be honest. There is a reason why the marketing industry uses scantily-clad women to sell products. There is a reason why the procurers of prostitutes want their “working girls” to dress the way they do. That reason is sin. It is sin when one person uses another person to gain power or financial profit. Young women need to know that they are more—far more—than objects of pleasure for display. Failing to speak about clothing as God’s protective covering for their bodies puts them at risk of being identified not as He created them, but as the world sees them. It removes respect. It places them in conflict with themselves and compromises their true identity. It sets young men up for temptation, frustration, and trouble. A young Christian woman in college told me that she never gave much thought to the way she dressed until the day her boyfriend blurted out, “Do you know what you’re doing to me?”

A classroom educator might try to explain to a young woman that a man’s eyes rest easily on a woman’s body. It is, however, far more appropriate and protective when a father explains the virtue of modesty to his daughter. He can explain to her that before sin Adam could gaze upon Eve’s body in appreciation for what God had made, but that after sin his eyes would distort that appreciation. It is also the father who best explains to his son how to avoid the temptress. The father’s warning away from the temptress in Proverbs 7 is wisdom to his son:

At the window of my house I have looked out through my lattice, and I have  . . . perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense, passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness.  And behold, the woman meets him, dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart.  she is loud and wayward; her feet do not stay at home . . . let not your heart turn aside to her ways; do not stray into her paths. (Prov. 7:6-11; 25)

The father in Proverbs 7 wanted his son to know that identity matters.  Even what we choose to wear says something about who we think we are.

From Chapter 14, Question 84
The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromise Purity
by Linda Bartlett ~ Copyright 2014 Titus 2 for Life
Our Identity Matters

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